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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Truth About Digital Cameras: Why Megapixels do not Matter Anymore

David Pogue from the New York Times posted a very interesting article on his blog today explaining why megapixels do not really matter anymore when shopping for a new digital camera.

We blew up a photograph to 16 x 24 inches at a professional photo lab. One print had 13-megapixel resolution; one had 8; the third had 5. Same exact photo, down-rezzed twice, all three printed at the same poster size. I wanted to hang them all on a wall in Times Square and challenge passersby to see if they could tell the difference.

So, what are your thoughts on this? Do you think you would notice the difference?

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  • such articles are a disgrace to everyone who's really into photography. Yes, it is correct to a certain extent that more megapixels in today's soapboxes do not really matter, but this is too typical. Just as disturbing is the murder of comments that accept the article without analyzing it. The main reason for the fact that a few mp do not matter is that the lenses usually are just crap. They do not match the CCD's with 10+ mpx, blur and otherwise distort the detail out of the picture, so normally you'd be as fine with a 7-mp camera as with a 10, especially when the 10-mp one is a mobile phone with a plastic lens... HOWEVER. However, there is ALWAYS a difference between 5 and 10, 3 and 7 megapixels, and by a very large margin. I have had two Canon Powershots with about the same-quality lenses but with a two-times resolution difference, and I'm telling you, the difference is insane. Also, when printed at full resolution, I have no hard time telling a good-lens 6mp picture from an equally-good-lens 8mp one. And did You notice the small phrase "down-rezzed twice". What the hell do they mean by that? Uh, that the pictures were downsampled TWICE? Why on earth would they do such an idiotic thing when printing a POSTER? Every pixel-sampling effect that is applied to the picture removes a LOT of details from a picture. And, well, seriously, think about this: the most common 13-mp camera is the Canon 5D. That costs about what, three grand? And the common 5-mp costs what, two hundred? Take some time people, think about this.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:11 PM  

  • Pogue's methodology is extremely flawed.

    He took the same picture and resampled it for the different sizes - you're not going to see much difference.

    If he had taken the picture multiple times at different resolutions (or used different cameras) you would see a difference.

    A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

    By Blogger Jono, at 4:14 PM  

  • Garbage, unless you're making non-parallel comparisons of non-critical material. I posted a response on his blog with concrete examples that showed the difference, but it didn't appear, for whatever reason.

    I switched from 4mp to 8mp for my archiving work, which has a lot of detail, and the difference was immediately noticible in an 8x10. I got a better, current, printer, and the difference was embarassing.

    By Blogger Michael Darnton, at 12:20 AM  

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